Farms and Estates Disputes

"They were extremely helpful and delivered everything you could ask for on time. They were prompt, helpful and friendly."

Chambers UK High Net Worth, 2018

Family farms and landed estates often fall front and centre in inheritance disputes and we have considerable expertise in representing clients in these types of matters.

The courts have recently seen a spate of cases pivotal to which is a purported reliance by an adult child on a promise from one or both of their parents that one day the farm or landed estate in question will be theirs. If then on the parent’s death they go back on their promise and bequeath the farm or estate to another sibling (or third party) then the earlier assurance gives rise to a potential claim on the basis of what is known as a proprietary estoppel. If such a claim is successful the court has a wide discretion as to appropriate remedy including making an order giving effect to the adult child’s expectation as a consequence of the assurance given.

Parties involved in disputes over family farms and landed estates may also claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (which enables certain categories of people who were financially dependent on the deceased prior to death to bring a claim for reasonable financial provision from his or her estate) or claim a constructive trust (a trust arising in circumstances whereby it would be unconscionable for the beneficiary to be denied an interest by the other person).

We have an excellent track record in these types of cases and although it may be necessary to go to court in some instances, we are also able to assist the family in reaching a satisfactory resolution without having to go down this route. In each case, we will weigh up the individual needs and circumstances of our clients, and tailor our approach accordingly.

Our leading family team are also extremely experienced in dealing with Farms and Landed Estates in the context of divorce.

What clients and directories say

adopts an easy and collaborative style which is a great catalyst to case preparation and ultimately a successful outcome for its clients"

Legal 500 UK, 2019

Kingsley Napley have really penetrated the market and are becoming an established player in this area."

Chambers UK High Net Worth, 2018

a strong private client team with some real strength in the contentious trust area."

Chambers and Partners HNW Guide UK, 2018

Kingsley Napley is becoming a significant player in this area.The team has considerable expertise in areas such as undue influence claims, validity claims, and complex cross-border asset- and people-tracing cases, as well as professional negligence claims relating to wills and trusts”

Legal 500, 2017

They always produce consistently high quality work and I feel they have the ability to deal with complex and sophisticated disputes."

Chambers UK High Net Worth, 2017

 

 

"Practice head Ryan Mowat continues to attract complex and varied work including an increasing proportion of work involving fraud or with offshore elements"

Legal 500 UK, 2019

"Anna Metadjer is 'very competent, calm and reassuring'"

Legal 500 UK, 2019

Latest blogs & news

Claimants given costs boost in inheritance disputes – Hirachand v Hirachand

The Court of Appeal has recently handed down its judgment in the case of Hirachand v Hirachand, concerning an appeal against an order made in May 2020 in proceedings brought by Sheila Hirachand for provision from the estate of Navinchandra Hirachand, her late father, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”).

Actor Terry Jones’ children challenge his Will - but does suffering from dementia mean you can’t make a valid Will?

Several stories have recently been published about the ‘legal battle’ commenced in the High Court relating to the estate of actor Terry Jones, who was well known and loved for his role in Monty Python and who died in January 2020. His adult children from his first marriage have reportedly commenced proceedings against their father’s estate and his second wife Anna Söderström (who is thought to be the main beneficiary of the estate), claiming that the Will their father made in 2016 is invalid because he lacked capacity when he made it. As a matter of law, a Will made by someone who lacks the required mental capacity at the time they made the Will is not valid. 
 

 

Why the date of death matters for creditors of insolvent estates

Death does not release an individual from their debts and liabilities, nor does it allow transactions made to loved ones to escape challenge. This is so regardless of whether the transactions were made with the intention to defraud creditors.

Spotlight on dementia: can you challenge a will despite the views of medical experts?

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, has been in the spotlight recently given a recent scientific breakthrough with the US approving the first new Alzheimer’s drug in 20 years. Light has also been shed on dementia and assessing testamentary capacity in the recent case of Hughes v Pritchard [2021] EWHC 1580 Ch. In this case, Mr Hughes, who suffered from moderately severe dementia was nevertheless deemed to have capacity at the time of amending his will by his GP, a view supported by a joint medical expert later instructed in the case. Despite this, his will was overturned by the judge on the basis that he did not have the requisite capacity to make the changes to his previous will, which were much more significant than the medical professionals, and indeed Mr Hughes, had appreciated.

When does the clock start ticking on trustees’ negligence?

Matthew & Others v Sedman & Others [2021] UKSC 19 

The Supreme Court recently handed down a judgment dealing with time limits in a “midnight deadline” case. The claim was brought by new trustees and beneficiaries of a will trust against the former professional trustees. The claim involved allegations of negligence against the former trustees, along with breach of trust and breach of contract.

Looking out for financial abuse of the vulnerable

 Financial abuse of older and vulnerable adults is sadly becoming more prevalent

You gotta’ have faith…in ADR

My previous blog examined whether Kenny Goss, the ex-partner of George Michael, may be entitled to a provision from the late singer’s estate, notwithstanding the fact that their relationship had broken down in 2009 (seven years prior to Mr Michael’s death). It was reported at the time that Mr Goss was seeking an award of £15,000 per month on the basis that Mr Michael had been financially maintaining Mr Goss at the time of his death. Pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, Mr Goss made an application for reasonable financial provision from Mr Michael’s estate because he had not been left anything in the singer’s will.

Inheritance claims by adult children

In recent years the courts have seen a significant number of claims under the 1975 Act bought by adult children. This week it has been widely reported that the two adult daughters of Tony Shearer, a high profile banker and finance governor of a well-known public school, have failed in their attempt to bring a claim against their late father’s £2.2 million estate. Mr Shearer made no provision in his estate for his daughters leaving the majority of his wealth to his second wife.

What is required to show dishonesty in the case of a professional trustee?

Examining the impact of Sofer v Swiss Independent Trustees SA on practitioners in England and Wales. 

This article was first published by STEP, December 2020: Katherine Pymont, 'Moments of Truth', Trust Quarterly Review (Vol18 Iss4), pp.36-41

Whoever thought Will forgery would be easy?

Two recent decisions relating to forged wills have highlighted what evidence will be sufficient for a court to make a finding of forgery.

Contentious Trust and Probate Quarterly Round-Up: Q4 2020

This quarterly contentious trust and probate litigation update provides a summary of a cross-section of reported decisions handed down in the courts of England and Wales in the period October 2020 - December 2020.

Beneficiaries in the dark: what can you do to obtain the information you need?

Beneficiaries often have questions and concerns over how the estate of a loved one is being administered but are sometimes kept in the dark by personal representatives (PRs). Under section 25(b) of the Administration of Estates Act 1925 (AEA 1925) PRs can be required by the court to provide, on oath, a full inventory of the estate and an account of what steps they have taken to administer an estate. 

Leaving a legacy to charity: avoiding a will construction claim

The High Court has recently given judgment in the case of Knipe v The British Racing Drivers’ Motor Sport Charity and Ors [2020] EWHC 3295 (Ch), a summary judgment application concerning the construction of a will of a deceased racing driver, Mr Barrie Williams, who had sought to make several bequests to charity but the names of the organisations had not been correctly recorded.

When can a Will be rectified? Barrett v Hammond (2020)

One of the questions we are often asked is whether an individual’s will can be amended after their death if it doesn’t reflect their intentions. This is sometimes possible under a process known as rectification, although the circumstances in which rectification is available are limited. A claim for rectification was recently considered by the court at the end of 2020 in the case of Barrett v Hammond & others.

Did George Michael have the freedom to exclude his ex-partner from his will?

It has been alleged that the ex-partner of George Michael, Kenny Goss, may be considering issuing a claim against the singer’s estate. Goss was excluded from the singer’s Will but purportedly claims he is entitled to a monthly allowance of £15,000 as the singer provided this monthly allowance to him before their relationship broke down in 2009.

Highly publicised matters arising in relation to the administration of the late Steve Bing’s estate in the US give rise to some interesting legal issues

Before the Family Law Reform Act 1969 (“the 1969 Act”) came into force on 1 September 1970, the common law rules of construction that a child is legitimate only if the child was born or conceived in wedlock applied when dealing with trust deeds or wills. The 1969 Act is not retrospective so difficulties may still arise in relation to trust deeds or wills settled/executed prior to that time.

Think twice: might the estate be insolvent?

This blog focuses on two practical considerations that should be borne in mind when dealing with an estate where there are any suspicions that the value of the assets when realised may be insufficient to meet all debts and liabilities in full.

Glover v Barker – Cost Orders against Litigation Friends

It is not uncommon in claims involving trusts and estates for one or more of the parties to be a child or other protected party. This is particularly true of claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and in cases involving trusts with minor beneficiaries. The procedures for litigation by or on behalf of a protected party are covered by Part 21 of the Civil Procedure Rules. 

How to challenge a will

This article was first published by EPrivateClient on the 18th August 2020

Contentious Trust and Probate Quarterly Round-Up: Q2 2020

This quarterly contentious trust and probate litigation update provides a summary of a cross-section of reported decisions handed down in the courts of England and Wales in the period April 2020 - June 2020.

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